My capstone project has been the bane of my existence Friday and today. Group projects never really go smoothly all the time, but this one has been painful lately. Namely, I tried to raise a point that my other group members just dismissed, then today one of our advisors raised my exact point and now we’re switching paths.  It’s frustrating because it seems like people really have no faith that my concerns are legitimate and not just pulled out of my ass.

I do think, however, that I bring doubt on myself because of a lack of confidence in my own knowledge. I made my point clearly and repeatedly, and it was a logical argument (and apparently a correct one), but I was willing to back down from it. I didn’t trust that I was right and agreed that I could be wrong, whereas another more vocal member was more assertive and confident in his thought (even though he turned out to be off course). I think my own slight uncertainty encouraged the other members to dismiss my perspective.

This is a common female issue — women apologizing before asking a question or stating an opinion, or wrongful inflection making should-be statements into questions, etc. — but I need to get over it before I enter the professional world full time. This was an issue during important mock-interviews in undergrad, was raised again in speech class, and yet I still do it. I’m so afraid of appearing overconfident or being wrong that I lead others into not trusting my opinion. This is really not a good thing.

On the other hand, when I’m 100% sure of something, I can almost always convince others to go along with me. When I believe in something, I can pull out countless arguments and my passion alone tends to convince people. I just can’t claim that certainty when I don’t know that I have it; I’d need to go do all the research, line up all the evidence, and have rebuttals to counter-arguments first. This isn’t helpful during spur-of-the-moment debates or discussions, or when I have more knowledge than those around me even if I’m not an expert, as was the case here. I need to learn to accept that even though I may not be an expert in the subject, if my subject matter expertise is higher relative to those in the discussion, then I’m allowed to be “fully certain” when making my case.

I was reading up on this, and found this to be especially relevant and interesting:

Why it that some people, the Donald Trumps of the world, seem to believe only the best about themselves, while others—perhaps especially women, perhaps especially young women—seize on the most self-critical thoughts they can come up with? “It turns out there’s an area of your brain that’s assigned the task of negative thinking,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.” This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it’s actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. “The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity,” says Brizendine, “is that we’ve been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Why-Women-Have-Low-Self-Esteem-How-to-Feel-More-Confident#ixzz1oCxJTVMY

So, at least I’ll probably be a really good mom?

Other randoms:

  • My paper on nuclear reprocessing has reawakened my interest in international energy security and nonproliferation. I actually applied to grad school based on my interest in that topic, but chose to pursue a skills-based program instead of a research-centric one. I ended up stumbling into homeland security as a subject area, but I do still find energy security fascinating. I love reading up on it and talking about it, imaging a world with different policy decisions and altered political environments.
  • Dirty Things ranks as my second-favorite DC-area event, second only to Rapture (which is only first at this point because of my friendships with the people there). I had a fantastic time this weekend going to Baltimore for the event.  I really can’t imagine ever getting sick of rope, both watching and participating in play with it.*
  • I realized that while I see the world in a variety of gray – when presented with options, I always end up with some combination of the alternatives – when it comes to my participation in things I’m either all or nothing. I am fully engaged, or not engaged at all. I understand something or I don’t. I don’t do things halfway at all, even though I’m one of the biggest advocates for compromise and middle paths. Odd realization.

*It’s been a while since I’ve clarified on that, but whenever I talk about how much I love playing with rope, it’s really all contingent on who I’m playing with. Yes, playing with rope by itself can be fun (that’s why I own some), but there are certainly different levels of enjoyment depending on if it’s for practice, the connection I have with the other people involved, the surrounding environment, etc. and there are times when it isn’t enjoyable at all if one of those things is really off. I love rope and I’ll demo in a public learning environment for whoever needs a bottom, but real actual enjoyment (of the sensual sort or the relaxation sort) comes more from the “something more” that isn’t found with all and sundry.


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